Highlands and Islands MSP supports Caithness Archaeological Trust’s Role in Promoting the Area’s Viking Roots

Highlands and Islands Regional Labour MSP Peter Peacock will this week call on the Scottish Executive to remember the Scandinavian heritage of the north of Scotland.

Mr Peacock says it is vital to support the cultures of the Northern Isles and Caithness, where, although Gaelic was spoken, strong roots are felt in the Norse rather than the Celtic tradition.

"I was saddened to hear that the current funding stream for the Caithness Archaeological Trust Officer, Emma Sanderson, is coming to an end this month.

"This is exactly the kind of work that should be supported.

"This was a group set up by the people for the people and despite great voluntary support this must have an impact on the work that the group do in highlighting Caithness’ role as a Viking Centre for tourists and locals alike."

According to CAT Chairman, the Earl of Caithness, the trust has kept the post going for four years and there have been great developments in its outreach projects, including the formation of the Young Archaeologists Club which has attracted over 30 young members.

Mr Peacock says the benefits to tourism and the need to pass on our heritage to future generations make the work of local groups and festival organisers vital.

"There is a great culture of storytelling in the North of Scotland and the Viking sagas play a major part in that. The traditional music also has links with Scandinavian music and even the way of playing the fiddle is different," commented Mr Peacock.

"There are a lot of people keeping these distinct dialects and cultural roots alive.

The Up Helly Aa fire festival in Shetland draws visitors from around the world and a second phase of the highly successful Sagalands project – which brought together people from Orkney, Shetland, Faroes, Iceland, Greenland, Canada, Norway and Sweden – is set to be launched."

As part of a question to the Minister for Europe, External Affairs and Culture on whether the government will be represented at the Royal National Mod in Fort William, the Highlands and Islands list MSP plans to ask if the Scottish Executive is prepared to support these important parts of our heritage in the same way it supports Gaelic and Scots.


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